Wednesday, October 17, 2018


With the imminent release of SOMM11, I thought it would be useful to briefly recap the first ten films in the series. The franchise shows no signs of tiring, unlike most of its featured wine personalities.

The now dated debut of the series, SOMM follows six candidates for the Court of Master Sommeliers as they try to pass their exams. The movie made Fred Dame MS a household name, like Preparation H. If he doesn’t shrink your tissue, nothing will.

A love letter to winemakers, vineyards, and, most of all, the director of the films. It follows up on four of the six candidates from SOMM, all of whom are about as memorable as wetnaps. In fact, most usually settle for wet naps. It features a memorable scene of Fred Dame MS drinking a rare bottle of wine with Leon Panetta after the death of Osama Bin Laden. Ironically, the film reveals, Bin Laden had just passed his Level One WSET—Wine and Spirits Education for Terrorists.

Focused around the endlessly overrated Paris Tasting of 1976, the director assembled a cast of “legendary” palates Fred Dame, Jancis Robinson and Steven Spurrier. These palates are legendary to wine tasting in the same way Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed are legendary to horse racing—wondrous, but long dead. Burgundies are tasted blind alongside New World Pinot Noirs by the Three Anosmics, and their results are compared to the results of a panel of young, trendy, similarly pretentious sommeliers. Hilarity ensues when the Burgundies are revealed to be from the cellar of Rudi Kurniawan! However, the only fake spotted by the experts is Madeline Puckette, who hosts the film because, apparently, the only other logical host, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was busy that week having her tongue forked.

Alice Feiring stars in this biopic of biodynamics creator Rudolf Steiner in this episode about Natural Wines. The film attempts to answer the question, “Why are all the con men in wine named Rudi?” Pascaline Lepaltier co-stars as the voice of manure. Fred Dame is buried in a cow horn.

Explored the influence of wine critics and publications. Unable to get interviews with most of the influential critics, the director substituted puppets. Except for Suckling, who already was one and everybody knew it. Shot on a small budget, castoff puppets from other films were used. Fans were shocked at Parker portrayed by Jabba the Hutt, as well as Chucky playing James Molesworth. Though there’s a nice interview with Wallace and Gromit, who turn out to be Andrew Jefford and, inexplicably, Eric Asimov. A visibly tattered Mortimer Snerd is Fred Dame.

The only musical of the series, SOMM6 is “My Fair Lady” recast as a film about wine, and stars the director, in his first film role, as the Henry Higgins character, with Madeline Puckette as Eliza Doolittle. Eliza has the show stopper with her spirited rendition of “I Could Have Puked All Night;” and Professor Higgins delights with “The Rain in Spain Brings Mildew to Champagne.” The film is based on Shaw’s “Fredmalion,” and involves Henry Higgins MS teaching novice Eliza (Puckette) enough about wine for her to pass as an expert.

Inspired by “The Magnificent Seven,” SOMM7 is the tale of seven Master Sommeliers who are hired by a Mexican village to protect them from a band of savage wine bloggers. Arriving in the village, the seven Master Somms immediately eliminate the women. Duh. Outnumbered by the bloggers, and armed with only Coravins and lapel pins, the seven somms put up a courageous fight. Happily, in the end, everyone dies. The Mexicans decide to build a wall.

Somm8 was the first film in this series about the wine world to feature an all African-American cast. Running time is eleven minutes. Fred Dame sings the title song as Barry White. Madeline Puckette has a graph proving she’s black.

A look at the role of women in the wine industry, SOMM9 is the most controversial film of the series. Narrated by Jay McInerney, who opens the film by declaring, “Hashtag MeToo? Hell, I thought it said Pound MeToo! Mea culpa, gals, mea maxima culpa.” The film follows six attractive young women who pursue various jobs in the wine business—winemaker, sommelier, wine critic, wine writer—and illustrates just how hilarious it is they’d even try. Three of the women end up as Jagermeister girls, two go on to wonderful careers as permanent interns at glossy wine publications, while one finds happiness in the arms of a Master Sommelier—as close as she’ll get to a pin.

SOMM10 looks at how climate change will affect the great wine regions of the world, and what scientists are doing to try to help. In Napa, researchers are trying to develop a clone of Cabernet that will make balanced wine when picked at 40 Brix. In the lab, they’re exposing Cabernet Bosché clone to excessive heat by packing it into Tim Fish’s pants. The results are promising, though there’s milt everywhere. In Chablis, vineyards have been victimized by extreme weather in many recent vintages, primarily by ferocious hail storms. Botanists are trying to create Chardonnay that grows a canopy like umbrellas. Every spring, the vineyards will be full of bumbershoots. If they succeed, growers in Chablis will be happy. Realistically, it’s a hail merry. Fred Dame appears as a natural disaster.


Charlie Olken said...

I don't recognize the writer of this blog. Is it someone we used to know? I thot the Hosemaster had joined Parker, Heimoff, Olken (who's he?) in retirement.

Welcome back. We all hope it is permanent, but even if this is a one-off, welcome back.

Rob R said...

There may be 11 SOMM movies now - but you are #1 in my book, or are you a #2?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Puff Daddy,
I'm only semi-retired. I'm now driving a semi. I write for Tim Atkin once a month, but I sit and write as often as I can just for myself. In a weird way, I'm busier with writing than I've been in a long time, I just don't publish.

I wrote this little casual and, for some reason, it kept asking to be published. I expected some grief about being "retired," and I certainly deserve it, but I thought it would be fun to light up this blog after a long dimness. Because, if anything describes me perfectly, it's "a long dimness."

Thanks for showing up, Charlie! It's like the good ol' days! Where's Thomas and Marcia and Samantha and Anonymous 1?

I've been called both. So I'm a #3, I guess.

Marcia Macomber said...

I'm here! Love to see the comments. (Just so friggin' busy these days!) So glad to hear you are busy writing...even if we don't get to read it. Must run... Several deadlines. (Grrr!)

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Marcia Love,
Deadlines? Hell, that describes my comedy.

Not a Common Tater party without you!

Unknown said...

Welcome back! The wine world needs you now more than ever. Well, we really don't need you at all but it is still fun to read what you right. Oops, I mean write. George

Anthony Dias Blue said...

Wait a minute. Wasn't there a musical SOMM where Bradley Cooper played Fred Dame and Lady Gaga played Alice Fiering?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Oh, the wine world doesn't need me. I never think of myself that way. The wine world is a very large pond, and I'm just the pond scum.

I like it! A Somm is Born! That could be SOMM12.

Eric V. Orange said...

Good to see your still at it, Hose.


Unknown said...

Ron, I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my email and found a complete Hosemaster blog. If you're opposed to writing a weekly or monthly blog, please write a book. I miss the wine shooting out of my nose.

Unknown said...

Somm 11, coming soon. Based off of Stephen King's brilliant Dark Tower series, in which Fred Dame plays the Gunslinger, Jancis Robinson the legless Susannah, Tim Hanni the recovering addict, Eddie Dean, and Alpana Singh the boy Jake (cast, certainly, for her youthful spark) and the four must quest for the elusive Black Tower Wine, which nobody can believe is still being produced. When the tower is reached, Fred Dame, the Gunslinger, is dismayed to find out Richard Fannin, AKA Randall Flagg, AKA Walter Broadcloak, AKA He Who Must Not Be Names, AKA Voldemort has cheated, is stripped of his pin, and sent back to the beginning to do it all over again.

(Kudos, my man. This was BRILLIANT!! Thanks for the laugh!)

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I'm not opposed to anything except maybe having any kind of writing schedule. I don't want to write a book--the remainder piles are big enough with all the Rosé books in them. As I used to tell you when we judged together, nothing I can do about your nose.

That's the spirit! Though I've never read the Dark Tower series and, so, don't know what you're talking about. I guess now I know what my readers feel like.

Thanks for the kind words! And for being a common tater.

David said...

Thanks for the laughs!

SOMM13: Into the Fakes. Six aspiring Acker, Merrall & Condit-hangarounds spend five hours trying to identify 40 different wines that are all fake - but who, why and when were they made? Classic Rodenstock? Chinese knock-off of Two Buck Chuck? Dr. Conti-riddled blend? Auctioned off by themselves in 2007?

All the best,

Unknown said...

The Ozzy Osborne of retirement?

Unknown said...

Actually, I envision Somm13 as the failed attempt of the Chinese to cultivate the moon with plantings of vitis (after having purchased millions of acres of land from NASA).

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Might be more interesting to examine 40 MSs, who are all fakes. But I get your point. Thanks for being a common tater.

I'm not that much like Ozzy Osborne. I have way more brain damage.

Tom In Real Life said...

Ron I swear to god, if I win the Lotto we are going to produce one of these and the best part is we can get the original cast. They're so caught up in themselves they will have no idea we just did Spinal Tap for wine.

Alfonso Cevola said...

As Oscar Hammerstein II wrote, "there ain't nothing like Fred Dame!"

Unknown said...

With all the common taters I guess I'm up to Somm 14.. how about a Pixar animation release of James Conway's latest eyeglazer door stop, Eden something.. Chicken Little's, the sky is falling! the sky is falling!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Here's the thing about Master Sommeliers: They're like whiny hand grenades--pull their pins and they go off. Your movie sounds like a good idea, but only if I can replace Madeline Puckette with Roseanne.

He does have an ironic surname, doesn't he? God works in mysterious ways, like employing Alderpated, as another example.

I like the idea that Napa Valley was once some kind of Paradise--probably was for old white males. Good idea for SOMM14! I know Jason Wise (again, ironic surname) is probably here stealing all these ideas.

Thanks to all my common taters! It's the good ol' days around here. They were good ol' days, right?

Charlie Olken said...

They might have been the good old days. Some of us are getting too old to remember. The rest are studying for the WSET. Had a waiter tell me the other day--He's studying for the WSET but only the part about bubbles because he likes Champagne.

I told him he was wasting his time. The real answer is sort of like the answer to "how do you get to Carnegie Hall"--Drink, brother, drink.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Passing the CSW or WSET and believing it makes you a wine expert is like watching a lot of porn and thinking you're good at sex afterward. You are in your own imagination, but you're not fooling anyone. Though they both teach you to spit.

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
I'm always here. Cherishing seeing all these dear names in this space again.
Miss you all.
I love You,

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
Lovely to see you here. A little tardy, but you're worth the wait. I'm sure most of those old original Common Taters don't even read my crap any more. Or, worse, they've turned into lurkers! The horror, the horror!

I love you, too, Beautiful!

Samantha Dugan said...

Late but worth the wait? Is that like Riunite on Ice, so nice?
I miss you
I miss you